BP has put North Sea oil assets worth close to 2 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) up for sale, the Sunday Times reported.

BP, which on Thursday got a green light to drill a deepwater well off the Shetland Islands, has made the move following UK government plans to encourage more exploration in the North Sea.

The newspaper report, citing industry sources, said BP had launched an auction this month to sell many of its stakes in reservoirs where it holds a minority position, adding that it had hired investment bank Jefferies as an adviser.

BP made no comment when contacted by Reuters.

($1 = 0.6304 British pounds)

(Reporting by Neil Maidment; Editing by Mark Potter)